Sports | August 24, 2021 11:32 am

Where Does Notre Dame’s “Fighting Irish” Leprechaun Rank Among the NCAA’s Most Offensive Mascots?

The three schools that were deemed more offensive by a recent survey all have mascots with Native American ties

The Notre Dame Fighting Irish leprechaun
The Notre Dame Fighting Irish leprechaun mascot celebrates.
Robin Alam/Icon Sportswire via Getty

After a recent survey conducted on nearly 1,300 people determined that Notre Dame’s leprechaun mascot is one of the most offensive mascots in NCAA Division 1 football, the school is defending their use of the longtime Fighting Irish representation.

When presented with the results of the survey, which covered nearly 130 college football mascots, Notre Dame cited the leprechaun’s history in an emailed statement to The IndyStar.

“It is worth noting … that there is no comparison between Notre Dame’s nickname and mascot and the Indian and warrior names (and) mascots used by other institutions such as the NFL team formerly known as the Redskins,” the statement read. “None of these institutions were founded or named by Native Americans who sought to highlight their heritage by using names and symbols associated with their people. Our symbols stand as celebratory representations of a genuine Irish heritage at Notre Dame, a heritage that we regard with respect, loyalty and affection.”

According to the school, the leprechaun is “symbolic of the Fighting Irish” and “intentionally a caricature.”

“Irish-Americans — including those at Notre Dame — again have turned back on former oppressors as a sign of celebration and triumph,” the university wrote. “In both the upraised fists of the leprechaun mascot and the use of the word ‘fighting,’ the intent is to recognize the determination of the Irish people and, symbolically, the university’s athletes.”

Ranked ahead of Notre Dame in terms of being offensive were Florida State’s Osceola and Renegade, the Aztec Warrior of San Diego State and Vili the Warrior of the University of Hawaii at Manoa.

“The Florida State University mascots appear at home games, riding into Doak Campbell Stadium with a burning spear before planting it into the ground,” per the survey. “While the school says the act serves as ‘a tribute to the great Seminole Tribe of Florida,’ many outsiders have taken issue with the act, often calling it racist. However, it’s important to remember that the Seminole Tribe of Florida has endorsed the school’s use of the name and representation.”

Another Indiana native, Purdue Pete, was ranked as the creepiest college mascot.

“What makes a mascot creepy? Is it a blank stare, intimidating facial expression or disproportionately large head?” the survey said. “Purdue Pete, of Purdue University, is the proud owner of all three, landing him squarely at the top of the list. In fact, if you type in ‘Purdue Pete’ on Google, one of the first suggestions is ‘Purdue Pete creepy.’ We’re not joking.”

They’re right. It works.